The Black God's Drums

128p. Tor. Aug. 2018. pap. $11.99. ISBN 9781250294715.
Clark combines historical fiction with sci-fi, creating a futuristic and Civil War—era setting of New Orleans. Creeper, a young girl, lives in a part of the city that is a free and an open port. In Confederate territory, slavery is legal. Creeper works with airship captain Ann-Marie to save Doctor Duval, a Haitian scientist, who has been taken hostage by powerful groups. Doctor Duval has knowledge of a weapon called the Black God's Drums that can create hurricanes. Creeper knows that unleashing this weapon on her beloved city would be the end of her people. The short novel is brimming with suspense. Creole dialogue is used throughout. The two protagonists are expertly crafted, and their religious beliefs inform and add nuance to the storytelling. Both Creeper and the captain have spirits who guide and speak to them as well as provide them with mystical powers at times. (Creeper's is Oya, the Yoruba orisha of wind and storm.) The author adeptly interweaves different threads around empathetic and complex characters to create an intricate, exciting page-turner.
VERDICT Readers of science fiction will appreciate this ride through New Orleans.

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